Friday, March 13, 2009

A week of appointments

A couple weeks ago I guess it was, we each received yet another letter from the region (Hof van Twente, btw) pointing out how, since we were holding foreign passports, but were living in the Netherlands, it was now a requirement for "inburgering".
Please note the first "r" in inburgering, so we won't be throwing in any puns at this point.
Pretty sure this was finally triggered by me getting my residence permit.
That would be my guess anyway.
Now, if you're reluctant to click the link and go to the website, which is in English, it's simply this. We (in Canada) have something called "English as a second language" or "ESL" for short, that we provide in a number of our school systems. Everyone is welcome, but for the adults it's not mandatory. Here theoretically, learning the Dutch language is. Before the end of three years, you have to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in Dutch. Not sure if they're ready and able to punt you out if you haven't done your test by that point, since this whole concept is rather new, but that is the plan.
Also, before you dismiss this idea as being rather draconian, you may wish to think back to those first generation immigrants who went to the "new world" and even after 25 or 30 years, have yet never been required to learn anything more than a smattering of English.
If you think ever so briefly of the title of this blog, you can rest assured that I could give a host of examples.

Nuff said.

So that appointment was over in Goor at the "gemeentehuis" on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.
I met with two very nice ladies, one of whom spoke no English whatsoever, but we muddled along. So I first explained why Gabe was unable to attend, (something to do with working late and the economy) and then how that, by the end of three years, we both figure we'll be getting by very nicely in English back in the home country.
Well, I might throw in some French once in awhile just to keep it interesting.
Oh, and maybe a smattering of Spanish if we head for some sun.

Very little Dutch I'm thinking.

They both completely understood "the plan", we exchanged email addresses (in case I could help them in any way) and I blew out of there.

Tuesday morning was also the Doctor's appointment, but there was no use considering the car for that one, since I'd get about half way there and run out of parking options. Kind of unfortunate that it was raining pretty damned hard on the bike ride home, but I didn't melt.
While I had the car, it hit me like a bolt that I had better make an appointment to get the winter tires switched and since I'm still not 100% comfortable on the phone (in Dutch) it was a good chance to go in person.
That one we set up for this morning at 8:00.

Now, with all the time in the world at my disposal, you'd think I wouldn't want to get in that early, but old habits die hard, and I hate waiting as it is, so if I'm the first one there (hey, their outside clock had just turned 7:59 as I was rounding the corner) then the hope is that there won't be too much hanging about.
They were pretty expeditious, and I was out of there within 50 minutes.
You don't sign anything, and the tires get left behind.

Love it.

Here's the silver bullet getting her faster shoes put on:

I try to always ask permission when taking photos depending on the circumstances, and the guy at the desk was OK with that. Plus, they have a website, so they're certainly not going to mind a few more eyes looking at their garage.

Meanwhile, I had set up an appointment for Thursday morning for the first service interval for the bike. Keep in mind we still haven't got the oil changed in the car yet, but that's beside the point.

I took a host of pictures, just to give you a feel for the scope of the bike "industry" in this country. I didn't bother taking a loaner, but instead wandered home for a bit, then headed back after about an hour or so to pick up new and shiny.

Bike repair dude wasn't done.

I think there may have been a misunderstanding.
Like that's a stretch.
No biggie.
Gave me a chance to wander around with the camera.
Their showroom is a tad small, with the usual sea of bikes:

The outside is rather unassuming,
and in the back is the service entrance. The bikes on the rack are used bikes for sale, and the rest (with the tags if you can see them) are either waiting to be worked on, or to be picked up.

New and shiny was at least inside waiting for a turn on the hoist.

The model on the hoist looked very similar to the one we were looking at on the weekend for Gabe.

While he had the bike up there, I mentioned that between 5th and 6th gear, she'd sometimes break loose, so he not only made an adjustment to the cable, but showed me a couple tricks while he was at it.

I didn't ask this fellow anything about his experience when it came to working on bikes, but my guess is he's been at this for just about as long as I've been on the planet. Kind of a far cry from the tattooed pimply faced kid at your local bike shop where I come from.
So I thought we were done but no, he needed to take it for a test ride.
Nothing like customer satisfaction.

So with the minor exception of the oil change for the car, neither vehicle needs to be on a hoist until the fall.

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Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.